Goldman Sachs follows companies like IBM, Ernst & Young and Twitter to ship breast milk for its employees, and moms tell Moneyish how they overcame the challenges of breastfeeding on business trips
Here’s one less thing working moms need to worry about on the job.
Breastfeeding employees at Goldman Sachs will now be able to ship their breast milk home while they’re traveling for work, free of charge, the company announced on Tuesday.
The investment bank and financial services firm will offer a breast milk shipping program globally for working moms through LifeCare’s milkship, a full-service delivery that can arrive to the destination overnight. Employees working outside of the U.S. will get reimbursed for shipping costs or in-room refrigerator costs.
“Being a parent, with all its rewards, can bring its own unique set of challenges. We continuously look to provide our people with programs and services to support them in navigating the day-to-day issues that arise while empowering them with the tools to be successful at home and at work,” Laura Young, global head of Wellness at Goldman, said in a statement.
Goldman Sachs isn’t the first company with a policy that allows new moms to ship breast milk while traveling on the job for free. Companies like IBM, Twitter and Accenture have had similar policies since 2015, and Ernst & Young first started shipping breast milk in 2007.
Goldman’s new policy is a small win for corporate moms, but a major pain point for the rest of the female workforce. Statistics show that more than 8 in 10 new moms, or 81.1%, begin breastfeeding their babies at birth, according to a 2016 Breastfeeding Report Card released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, research suggests that workplace barriers like lack of privacy and time to produce milk on the job make it harder for women to continue to breastfeed. In the month a new mother returns to work, she’s twice as likely to stop breastfeeding as her nonworking counterparts.
That can have a negative effect on a mother’s mental health. Women who feel pressured to stop breastfeeding when they go back to work could face greater risk for postpartum depression, as . scientific evidence suggests that breastfeeding may protect against PPD and assist in a faster recovery from symptoms of depression and anxiety.
But most working women don’t have the luxury of shipping their breast milk back home to their babies free of charge. Windsor Hanger Western, the co-founder of online magazine Her Campus, faced a number obstacles and discrimination while traveling through France with her husband for business.
“They asked me, ‘where’s your baby?’ Clearly I wouldn’t bring my breast pump with me if I had my baby. They made me throw away two of my ice packs,” she said, of traveling from Bordeaux to Nice.
When she arrived, the refrigerator in her hotel room at Le Meridien in Nice did not have a freezer, and staff refused to store the 50-ounces of frozen breast milk she had been pumping and freezing for her three-month old daughter during the 10-day trip.
“I asked them if they would put it in a hotel freezer. I had completely sealed it and they refused to freeze it for me. I had to dump it all out, it was a complete waste,” Hanger Western said of having to throw away two days worth of breast milk she pumped.
According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), you can bring formula and breast milk in your carry-on baggage in “reasonable quantities” (though they don’t specify what this means). You don’t need to travel with your child to bring breast milk on an airplane, and ice packs to cool breast milk are allowed in a carry-on.
The stigma around breastfeeding is also something that’s very present in the workplace especially when just 28% of organizations have proper nursing areas, according to a recent survey. And it’s worth noting that two-thirds of those who were less supportive of women who pump at work were men, according to the same survey. This is despite the Affordable Care Act provision that mandates employers provide a private, non-bathroom space for pumping breast milk. If a mother does decide to breastfeed, babies need to be nursed eight to 12 times in 24 hours, though as the baby gets older, the number of feedings may decrease. Pumping breast milk can take about 10 to 15 minutes multiple times a day to make enough milk for the baby, so many women will have to pump on their lunch break, come to work early or leave later often.
Like Hanger, Jessica Shortall, an entrepreneur and author of “Work. Pump. Repeat: New Mom’s Survival Guide to Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work,” went through hell trying to pump and freeze her breast milk on the job.
“There weren’t any workplace mentors for me,” Shortall told Moneyish of going back to work at Toms shoes five months after she had her son and feeling weird about nursing on the job. The company was still in start-up mode, and she was asked to fly to Nepal for a business trip.
“I could not imagine passing it up, but it meant I had to fly without my son and with a breast pump. I was pumping in cars, on airplanes all of the kinds of things a lot of working moms have to experience,” she said, adding that she suffered “extreme” postpartum anxiety in doing so.
“I found myself pumping in Bangkok on the way to Nepal and thinking ‘Is someone going to see wires and tubes under the stall?’ That kind of anxiety doesn’t help,” she said, adding that she had to eventually dump all of the milk she pumped because there was no way to keep it cold once she arrived in Nepal.
“On the way back I used ice from airport bartenders and flight attendants, in Ziploc bags, to keep that milk cold in a soft-sided cooler I’d packed. It wasn’t much, though. 24 hours of travel after an exhausting week did not make for fantastic milk supply,” she added.
Since paid family leave is not guaranteed in the US — and women make up 51% of the workforce — 25% of new moms go back to work less than two weeks after giving birth. That may be bad for their health: Research shows that women who take less than six months of maternity leave face a higher risk of PPD.
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